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More Leaves from the Journal
Second Visit to Dunkeld 1 Oct 1866


Monday, October 1, 1866

A very fine morning. Got up earlier, and breakfasted earlier, and left at a quarter to ten with Louise and Janie Ely (attended by Brown and Grant as formerly); Arthur having gone on with General Grey. We met many droves of cattle on the road, as it was the day for the tryst at Castleton. It was very hot, the sun very bright, and the Cairn Wall looked wild and grand. But as we went on the sky became dull and overcast, and we almost feared there might be rain. We walked down the Devil's Elbow, and when within a mile and a half of the Spital we stopped and lunched in the carriage, and even sketched a little. A little way on the north side of the Spital were the ponies, Gordon for me, Brechin for Louise, and Cromar for Janie Ely. There was a pony for Arthur, which he did not ride, and for Grant or any one who was tired. The dear Duchess of Athole and Miss MacGregor came to meet us here, and when we had reached the spot where the road turns up the hill, we found Mr. Keir and his son, and Mr. Small of Dirnanean—a strong, good-looking, and pleasing person about thirty-two—and his men, the same two fine tall men, preceding us as last year. It was a steep climb up the hill which we had then come down, and excessively hot. The views both ways beautiful, though not clear. The air was very heavy and oppressive. We went the same way as before, but the ground was very wet from the great amount of rain. We stopped a moment in passing, at Dirnanean, to speak to Miss Small, Mr. Small’s sister, a tall, stout young lady, [Their father, a man of immense size, was presented to me at Dunkeld in 1842.] and then went on to Klndrogan, Mr. Keir’s. All about here the people speak Gaelic, and there are a few who do not speak a word of English. Soon after entering Mr. Keir’s grounds we got off our ponies, and went along a few yards by the side of the river Ardle to where Mr. Keir had got a fire kindled and a kettle boiling, plaids spread and tea prepared. Mrs. Keir and her two daughters were there. She is a nice quiet person, and was a Miss Menzies, daughter of Sir Niel Menzies, whom I saw at Taymouth in 1842. Only we ladies remained. The tea over, we walked up to the house, which is a nice comfortable one. We waited here a little while, and I saw at the door Major Balfour of Fernie, the intended bridegroom of Mr. Keir’s youngest daughter. At a little over a quarter-past five started in my sociable, with Louise and the Duchess. We came very fast and well with the Duchess’s horses by exactly the same road we drove from Dunkeld last year. The horses were watered at the small half way house of Ballinluig, and we reached Dunkeld in perfect safety at ten minutes past seven. I am where I was before, Louise in Lenchen’s room, and Arthur in a room next to where Brown was before, and is now All the rest the same, and snug, peaceful, and comfortable.

Dunkeld Tuesday October 2

Mild and muggy, the mist hanging on the hills. Breakfasted with the children. Andrew Thomson attends to Arthur. Emilie [Emilie Dittweiler, my first dresser, a native of Carlsruhe, in the Grand Duchy of Baden, who has been twenty-four years in my service.] and Annie Macdonald t are with me here; they help Louise, who, however, is very handy and can do almost everything for herself.

At half-past eleven I drove out alone with the Duchess through the woods to Polney, and then along the road, and turned in at Willie Duff's Lodge, and down the whole way along the river under splendid trees which remind me of Windsor Park. How dearest Albert would have admired them! We ended by a little walk, and looked into the old ruin. At twenty minutes to four we drove, the Duchess, Louise, and I—Janie Ely and Miss MacGregor following—to Crieff-gate on the road of the Loch of the Lowes, where we got on ponies and rode for about an hour and a half through beautiful woods (saw a capercailzie, of which there are many here), but in a very thick mist (with very fine rain) which entirely destroyed all idea of view and prevented one’s seeing anything but what w as near. We came down to St. Colme’s, where we got off, but where again, like last year, w'e saw nothing of the beautiful view. Here we took tea out of the tea-set I had given the Duchess. She has furnished all her rooms here so prettily. How Albert would have liked all this!

Dinner as yesterday. Brown waited at dinner.

Wednesday October 2

Just returned from a beautiful and successful journey of seventy miles (in ten hours and a half). I will try and begin an account of it. At nine the Duchess sent up to say she thought the mist would clear off (it was much the same as yesterday), and to suggest whether we had not better try and go as far as her horses would take us, and return if it was bad. I agreed readily to this. Arthur left before our breakfast to go to the Pass of Killiecrankie with Lady Ely and General Grey. At a quarter past ten, well provided, we started, Louise, the Duchess, Miss MacGregor, and I (in our riding habits, as they take less room). The mist was very thick at first, and even accompanied by a little drizzling rain, so that we could see none of the distant hills and scenery. We crossed the Pay Bridge, drove through Little Dunkeld and along the Braan through Inver (where Niel Gow, the fiddler, lived), afterwards along the Tay opposite to St. Colme's. Four miles from Dunkeld, at Inchmagranachan Farm, the Highlands are supposed to begin, and this is one of the boundaries of Athole. We drove through some beautiful woods—oak and beech with brushwood, reminding one of Windsor Park—overtopped by rocks. A mile further Dalguise begins (the property of Mr. Stewart, now at the Cape of Good Hope), which is remarkable for two large orchards at either end, the trees laden with fruit in a way that reminded me of Germany. Kinnaird is next, the jointure house of the late Lady Glenly on (mother to the late Duke). Just beyond this the Tummcl and the Tay join at the point of Logierait.

We now entered Strath Tay, still the Duke of Athole’s property, on the side along which we drove. The Tay is a fine large river; there are many small properties on the opposite side in the woods. The mist was now less thick and there was no rain, so that all the near country could be well seen. Post-horses from Fisher of Castle-tons brother, the innkeeper at Dunkeld, were waiting for us at Skituan, a little beyond Balttaguard (where we changed horses in r842, and this was the very same road we took then). Now an unsightly and noisy railroad runs along this beautiful glen, from Dunkeld as far as Aberfeldy. We passed, close to the road, Grantully Castle, belonging to Sir William Stewart, and rented by the Maharajah Duleep Singh. It is a curious old castle, much in the style of Abergeldie, with an avenue of trees leading up to it.

At Aberfeldy, a pretty village opposite to Castle Menzies, one or two people seemed to know us. We now came in among fine high-wooded hills, and here it was much clearer. We were in the Breadelbane property and approaching Taymouth. We passed, to the left, Bolfrax, where Lord Breadalbane’s factor still lives, and to the right the principal lodge of Taymouth, which I so well remember going in by; but as we could not have driven through the grounds without asking permission and becoming known, which for various reasons we did not wish, we decided on not attempting it, and contented ourselves with getting out at a gate, close to a small fort, into which we were admitted by a woman from the gardener’s house, close to which we stopped, and who had no idea who we were. [The passage between the asterisks was quoted in a note in “Our Life in the Highlands,” page 22] We got out and looked down from this height upon the house below, the mist having cleared away sufficiently to show us everything ; and here un-. known, quite in private, I gazed, not without deep inward emotion, on the scene of our reception, twenty-four years ago, by dear Lord Breadalbane in a princely style, not to be equalled for grandeur and poetic effect! Albert and I were only twenty-three, young and happy. How many are gone who were with us then! I was very thankful to have seen it again. It seemed unaltered. Everything was dripping from the mist. Taymouth is twenty-two miles from Dunkeld.

We got into the carriage again; the Duchess this time sitting near to me to prevent our appearance creating suspicion as to my being there. We drove on a short way through splendid woods with little waterfalls, and then turned into the little village of Kenmore, where a tryst was being held, through the midst of which we had to drive; but the people only recognised the Duchess. There was music going on, things being sold at booths, and on the small sloping green near the church cattle and ponies were collected—a most picturesque scene. Immediately after this we came upon the bridge, and Loch Tay, with its wooded banks, clear and yet misty, burst into view. This again reminded me of the past—of the row up the loch, which is sixteen miles long, in 1842, in several boats, with pibrochs playing, and the boatmen singing wild Gaelic songs. The McDougall steered us then, and showed us the real Brooch of Lorne taken from Robert Bruce.

To the right we could see the grounds and fine park, looking rather like an English one. We stopped at Murray's Lodge, but, instead of changing horses here, drove five miles up the loch, which was quite clear, and the stillness so great that the reflection on the lake’s bosom was as strong as though it were a real landscape. Here we stopped, and got out and sat down or. the shore of the loch, which is covered with fine quartz, of which we picked up some; took our luncheon about half-past one, and then sketched. By this time the mist had given way to the sun, and the lake, with its richly wooded banks and changing foliage, looked beautiful.

At half-past two we re-entered our carriage, the horses having been changed, and drove back up a steep hill, crossing the river Lyon and going into Gknlyon, a beautiful wild glen with high green hills and rocks and trees, which I remember quite well driving through in 1842— then also on a misty day : the mist hung over, and even in some places below the tops of the hills. We passed several small places—Glenlyon House, the property of F. G. Campbell of Troup. To the left also Fortingal village —Sir Robert Menzies’—and a new place called Dnnaven House. Small, picturesque, and very fair cottages were dotted about, and there were others in small clusters ; beautiful sycamores and other trees were to be seen near the riverside. We then passed the village of Coshieville, and turned by the hill-road—up a very steep hill with a burn flowing at the bottom, much wooded, reminding me of M'Inroy's Burn—passed the ruins of the old castle of the Stewarts of Garth, and then came on a dreary wild moor—passing below Sohiehallion, one of the high hills— and at the summit of the road came to a small loch, called Ceannairdiche.

Soon after this we turned down the hill again into woods, and came to Tummel Bridge, where we changed horses. Here were a few, but very few people, who I think, from what Brown and Grant—who, as usual, were in attendance—said, recognised us, but behaved extremely well, and did n ot come near. This was at twenty minutes to four. We then turned as it were homewards, but had to make a good long circuit, and drove along the side of Loch Tummel, high above the loch, through birch wood, which grow7s along the hills much the same as about Birkhall. It is only three miles long. Here it was again very clear and bright. At the end of the loch, on a highish point called after me “The Queen's View”—though I had not been there in 1844—we got out and took tea. But this was a long and unsuccessful business; the fire would not burn, and the kettle would not boil. At length Brown ran off to a cottage and returned after some little while with a can full of hot water, but it was no longer boiling when it arrived, and the tea was not good. Then all had to be packed, and it made us very late.

It was fast growing dark. We passed Alleinc, Sir Robert Colquhoun’s place, almost immediately after this, and then, at about half-past six, changed horses at the Bridge of Garry, near, or rather in the midst of, thePass of Killiecrankie; but from the lateness of the hour and the dulness of the evening—for it was raining—we could see hardly anything.

We went through Pitlochry, where we were recognised, but got quite quietly through, and reached Ballinhug, where the Duchess’s horses were put on, at a little before half-past seven. Here the lamps were lit, and the good people had put two lighted candles in each window! They offered to bring “Athole brose,” which we, however, declined. The people pressed round the carriage, and one man brought out a bull’s-eye lantern which he turned upon me. But Brown, who kept quite close, put himself between me and the glare. We ought to have been home in less than an hour from this time, but we had divers impediments—twice the plaid fell out and had to be picked up; and then the lamp which I had given to the Duchess, like the one our outrider carries, was lit, and the coachman who rode outrider, and who was not accustomed to use it, did not hold it rightly, so that it went out twice, and had to be relit each time. So we only got home at a quarter to nine, and dined at twenty minutes past nine. But it was a very interesting day. We must have gone seventy-four miles.

Again heavy mist on the hills—most provoking—but without rain. The Duchess came to ask if I had any objection to the servants and gillies having a dance for two hours in the evening, to which I said, certainly not, and that I would go to it myself. At a quarter to twelve I rode in the grounds with the Duchess, going round Bishop's Hill and up to the Kings Seat, a good height, among the most splendid trees—beeches, oaks, Scotch firs, spruce—really quite like Windsor, and reminding me of those fine trees at the Belvidere, and a good deal of Reinhardtsbrunn (in the forest of Thuringia). But though less heavy' than the two preceding mornings and quite dry, it was too hazy to see any distant hills, and Craig y Barns, that splendid rocky, richly wooded hill overtopping the whole, only peeped through the mist occasionally. From the King's Seat we came down by the fort and upon the old "Otter Hound Kennels,” where we saw Mrs. Fisher, the mother of Agnes Brierly, who was formerly schoolmistress to the Lochnagar girls’ school near Balmoral. We came in at a little after one, expecting it would clear and become much finer, instead of which it got darker and thicker.

At twenty minutes to four drove with the Duchess, Miss MacGregor and Janie Ely following, to Loch Clunk by the Loch of the Lowes, and passed Laighwood Farm. We drove round the loch; saw and stopped to sketch the old castle of Clunnie, on a little island in the loch, the property of Lord Airlie. The scenery is tame, but very-pretty with much wood, which is now in great beauty from the change of the leaf. The distance was enveloped in mist, and, as we drove back towards Dunkeld by the Cupar Angus Road, it was quite like a thick Windsor fog, but perfectly dry.

We stopped to take tea at Newtyle, a farm of the Duchess, about two miles from Dunkeld, where she has a small room, and which supplies turnips, etc., for the fine dairy cows. We got home by five minutes to seven. We passed through the town, where the people appeared at their doors cheering, and the children made a great noise. Dinner as before. At half-past ten we went down (through the lower passages) to the servants’ hall, in which the little dance took place. All the Duchess’s servants, the wives of the men-servants, the keepers, the wood-forester (J. M‘Gregor, who has an extensive charge over all the woods on the Athole property), the gardener, and some five or six others who belong to my guard (eight people, belonging to the Duchess or to the town, who take their turn of watching two by two at night), besides all our servants, were there; only Grant and two of the gillies did not appear, which vexed us; but the gillies had not any proper shoes, they said, and therefore did not come. Janie Ely came; also Mr. Keir, and both were very active; General Grey only looked in for a moment, as he was suffering severely from cold. The fiddlers played in very good time, and the dancing was very animated, and went on without ceasing. Louise and Arthur both danced a good deal. Nothing but reels were danced. Even the Duchess’s old French maid, Clarice, danced! She no longer acts as the Duchess’s maid, but still lives near, in the adjacent so-called “brick buildings.”

Friday, October 5.

A brighter morning, though still hazy. The sun came out and the mist seemed dispersing. At twenty minutes to one started with the Duchess and Louise, the two ladies following, for Loch Ordie. Several times during the drive the mist regained its mastery, but then again the sun struggled through, blue sky appeared, and the mist seemed to roll away and the hills and woods to break through. We drove by Craig Lush and Butterstone Lochs, and then turned by the Riechip Burn—up a very steep hill, finely wooded, passing by Riechip and Raemore, two of the Duke of Athole’s shooting lodges, both let. After the last the road opens upon a wild moor (or “muir”) for a short while, before entering the plantations and woods of Loch Ordie. Here, quite close to the lodge, on the grass, we took luncheon. The Duchess had had a hot venison pie brought, which was very acceptable. The sun had come out, and it was delightfully warm, with a blue sky and bright lights, and we sat sketching for some time. The good people have made a cairn amongst the trees where we had tea last year.

At four we drove away, and went by the road which leads towards Tullymet, and out of the woods by Hardy's Lodge, near a bridge. We stopped at a very picturesque place, surrounded by woods and hills and little shiels, reminding me of the Laucha Grund at Reinhardtsbrunn. Opposite to this, on a place called Ruidh Reinnich, or the “ferny shieling,” a fire was kindled, and we took our tea. We then drove back by the upper St. Colme's Road, after which we drove through the town, up Bridge Street, and to the Market Cross, where a fountain is being erected in memory of the Duke. We went to see the dairy, and then came home on foot at a quarter to seven. Rested on the sofa, as my head was bad ; it got better, however, after dinner.

Saturday, October 6.

A beautiful, bright, clear morning, most provokmgly so. After breakfast at half-past nine, we left, with real regret, the kind Duchess’s hospitable house, where all breathes peace and harmony, and where it was so quiet and snug. It was a real holiday for me in my present sad life. Louise and the Duchess went with me; the others had gone on. Some of the principal people connected with the Duchess stood along the approach as we drove out. We went the usual way to Loch Ordie, and past the lodge, on to the cast end of the loch, the latter part of the road being very rough and deep. Here we all mounted our ponies at half-past eleven, and proceeded on our journey. A cloudless sky, not a breath of wind, and the heat intense and sickening. We went along a sort of cart-road or track. The burn of Riechip runs out of this glen, through which we rode, and which really is very beautiful, under the shoulder of Benachalhl. The shooting tenant of Raemore, a Mr. Gordon, was out on the opposite side of the glen on a distant hill. We rode on through the woods ; the day was very hazy. After a few miles the eastern shore of Loch Oishne was reached, and we also skirted Little Loch Oishne for a few hundred yards. We followed from here the same road which we had come on that pouring afternoon in going to Dunkeld last year, till at a quarter to one we reached the Kindrogan March. Here Mr. Keir, his son, and his keeper met us. Thence we rode by Glen Derby, a wild open glen with moors. Descending into it, the road was soft but quite safe, having been purposely cut and put in order by Mr. Keir. We then ascended a steepish hill, after passing a shepherd's hut. Here Arthur and General Grey rode off to Kindrogan, young Mr. Keir with them, whence they were to drive on in advance. As we descended, we came upon a splendid view of all the hills, and also of Glen Fernate, which is the way to Fealar.

At half-past two we five ladies lunched on a heathery knoll, just above Mr. Keir’s wood, and were indeed glad to do so, as we were tired by the great heat. As soon as luncheon was over, we walked down through the wood a few hundred yards to where the carriage was. Here we took leave, with much regret, of the dear kind Duchess and amiable Miss MacGregor, and got into the carriage at half-past three, stopping for a moment near Kindrogan to wish Mrs. Keir and her family good-bye. We drove on by Kirkmichael, and then some little way until we got into the road from Blairgowrie. The evening was quite splendid, the sky yellow and pink, and the distant hills coming out soft and blue, both behind and in front of us. We changed horses at the Spital, and about two miles beyond it—at a place called Doch-na-Braig—we stopped, and while Grant ran back to get from a small house some hot water in the kettle, we three, with Brown’s help, scrambled over a low stone wall by the roadside, and lit a fire and prepared our tea. The kettle soon returned, and the hot tea was very welcome and refreshing.

We then drove off again. The scenery was splendid till daylight gradually faded away, and then the hills looked grim and severe in the dusk. We cleared the Devil's Elbow well, however, before it was really dark, and then many stars came out, and we reached Balmoral in safety at half-past eight o’clock.


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